Sukierae by Jeff Tweedy is the Pick of the Week

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After what feels like a summer full of not much, we are finally getting a big week of great releases. Normally that would mean some heated debate inside my mind over who to honor with my pick of the week, but this time its a no brainer.

I first heard Jeff Tweedy back in his Uncle Tupelo days. Spin magazine sent my teenaged self a sampler CD for subscribing. It contained all sorts of cool stuff including Tupelo's "Give Back the Key to My Heart." I loved that song and made a note to get into the band.

To the detriment of my hipster credentials I pretty much forgot about them not long after. Oh sure I knew the name and sometimes looked at their albums in the record store, but I never did purchase. I followed the break-up through the magazine articles and heard great things about Tweedy's new band, Wilco, but again didn't purchase. I did buy Being There, but didn't really get into it until years later. It was one of those albums I'd throw on sometimes and dig some of it, but for whatever reason I'd put it away and not bring it back out for months.

I even walked out on one of their concerts. This was sometime around the release of A Ghost is Born, I still had not heard a lot of their stuff, but me the wife and a friend decided to see their show anyway. The crowd was obnoxious and the smoke gave my wife a headache so we decided to leave mid-set.

It wasn't that long after that I finally got around to listening to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and fell in love. I've been a fan ever since. I now own all of their albums, and have caught them several more times live and find them to be one of the best bands playing music today.

A couple of months ago I got to see Jeff Tweedy play most of this new album with his solo band (and then play a bunch of Wilco songs completely solo) and I've since listened to his set at the Newport Folks festival so I'm already familiar with the new album and I can definitely say its a good one.

I would have bought the album regardless of all that, and given it my Pick, but knowing that its already fairing well in a live setting make me all that more excited. A lot has been written about how Jeff initially intended it to be a strict solo album with him writing all the songs and playing all the instruments. Somewhere along the way he realized his son Spencer is a pretty good drummer and that the solo album could turn into a family affair. That's just an added cool bonus all around.

You can be sure I'll be in line tomorrow morning grabbing my copy of Sukierae. I'm just hoping I've got enough cash to grab a few of these other albums coming out, too.

Popular Problems - Leonard Cohen: The fact that this just turned 80 year old is still making music is amazing. That its getting as good of reviews as this is nothing short of a miracle.

Plain Spoken - John Mellencamp: Mellencamp is proving to have a more interesting career late in life than he ever did as a superstar. Its like he's gotten to where he could care less about album sales and has been freed to pursue whatever interests him. Lets hope he continues the trend.

The Apple Years - George Harrison: The quiet Beatles first six solo studio albums (Wonderwall Music, Electronic Sound, All Things Must Pass, Living in the Material World, Dark Horse, and Extra Texture (Read All About It))are getting the deluxe boxed set treatment. All of them have been remastered from the original analog master tapes and come with previously unreleased tracks. The set also includes a DVD with videos and never-before-seen film from his wife, Olivia, plus a book, essays and previously unreleased photos. If you are only a fan of one or two of the albums and don't want to spring for the whole box, they are being released separately as well.

Adore (Super Deluxe Edition) - Smashing Pumpkins: I loved the Pumpkins from Gish to Mellon Collie and then I stepped away. I actually only heard Adore for the first time last year. This wasn't actually all that intentional. In college (when Mellon Collie came out) I had started moving in different directions musically - turning to artists like the Grateful Dead and John Prine and away from my teenaged love of alt-rock. I also spend a number of years getting immersed inside of an unending obsession with bootlegs and pretty much stopped paying attention to new, studio music.

When I came out of this the Pumpkins had broke up and their last albums Adore and Machina had been pretty well panned by nearly everybody. I was no longer listening to their great albums so I felt no need to try the crappy ones. Turns out I kind of like Adore, and do no understand all the hate it got back in the day. Still this giant boxed set seems a little like overkill, but I guess the super fans will be thrilled.

Cheek to Cheek - Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga: Who would have thought these two would make an album together? They seem to be grand friends and Gaga can tone down the weird and put out a great voice when she wants to, and Tony Bennett can sing with pretty much anyone he wants. Call me intrigued.

Gary Clark Jr. Live - Gary Clark Jr: I don't know much about this new-bluesman, but our very own Josh Hathaway loves him.

The Knox Phillips Sessions: The Unreleased Recordings - Jerry Lee Lewis: The legendary Sam Phillip's son, Knox recorded Jerry Lee at Sun Records in the mid-70s. The Killer knocked out a range of covers from "Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown" to "Johnny B. Goode" to the gospel number "Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior." And now we have them.

Oh My God - Louis CK
We Are Miracles - Sarah Silverman: Two of the funniest comedians working today are releasing the audio versions of their recent HBO specials.

Strut - Lenny Kravitz: I wasn't really a Kravitz fan when he was huge, I can't say I have any real interest in this new record, but I figure its worth a mention.

This is All Yours - alt-J: These guys are supposed to be the new Radiohead. I don't really like Radiohead, but I'm willing to give the new breed a shot.

Graz 1975 - Deep Purple
Live in Paris - Robert Fripp & Brian Eno
Songs From Tsongas 35th Anniversary Concert - Yes
Live at Bush Hall 2007 - Gary Moore
Live at the Whisky - Stryper: I'm not really a fan of any of these artists but I love that they are all releasing live albums this week.

Offering: Live at Temple University - John Coltrane: Recorded on November 11, 1966 just nine months before he died. Live Coltrane is always intense, always amazing. I expect this to be the same.

Singer's Grave a Sea of Tongues - Bonnie Prince Billy: My friends in the UK like this guy. I suppose I ought to give him a try.

Songs From My Mother's Hand - Mac Wiseman: Mac was one of the pioneers of bluegrass music. I know him from an excellent album with John Prine. This one contains songs his mother wrote down by hand when he was a lad.